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Oh yeah, I have a blog!

Beloved and I took the girls on vacation this past week, which was school vacation week here in New England.

Originally, we were going to go to Spain – primarily Barcelona – but then the Economic Downturn hit the law firms, and our previously-thought-to-be-predictable bonuses were scaled back.  Fortunately, mine was not scaled back by much – we were still able to take care of most of our NEEDS.  It was scaled back enough, however, to make me feel that Spain was imprudent.

So we went to D.C.

We had wanted to take them for a long time, but many things were in place to make this year perfect:  Well, of course, Obama.  Also, E is doing key parts of American History in 7th grade this year.

J seemed considerably less excited leading up to the trip.  We couldn’t get her engaged in the travel books to say what she wanted to do – she kept saying ‘mm, yeah, that’ll be fine.”  So we were a little worried on that front.

We were also a little worried because this was (oddly) our first real “tourist” vacation with the girls.  We’ve gone on weekend trips, and we’ve gone to Disneyland.  But otherwise, the heavy travel that Beloved and I have done has been while they’re with the Ex.

Well, it was a resounding success.

We had a blast.  Oh, pictures, you say? I’ll give you pictures.

Washington Monument @ sunset, after a storm

Washington Monument @ sunset, after a storm

WWII Memorial

WWII Memorial

Pandas!

Pandas!

White House

White House

And, um, Escalators.

And, um, Escalators.

We did pretty darned close to everything while there (6 days).  It’s easier to list what we did NOT do:  The Jefferson Memorial; the Aquarium; Georgetown.  We did (I think) every Smithsonian museum that was open, the major monuments, the White House Garden Tour (see Michelle, Malia & Sasha’s veggie garden):

White House Veggie Garden

White House Veggie Garden

We also were able to watch the Senate in session, which was high up on E’s list.  It was both our most frustrating and most rewarding experience.  We’d gone all over D.C. — the White House, the museums, the Supreme Court building — and been through many security systems.  To all of these locations, we’d brought our metal (beautiful) water bottles, and in all of these locations, it was okay.  Actually, we thought it wouldn’t be okay at the White House, and so we left our bags in the hotel (2 blocks away), but others had brought theirs and it was okay.

But the Capitol Building was different.  We waited in line for a long time in the morning to get into the building.  When we finally got to security, one of the very official military-esque security guards barked at J to go outside and dump her water and said “have that guard out there check it before you come back in.”  We went outside and dumped them and asked the other barky military man to check them.  He laughed at me and said, “I just saw you dump it, it’s fine.”  So we went back in.  But then the barky military man who was looking at the x-rays told us we had to throw them away.  No bottles or cans in the building.

We were sad.  Beloved was even a little indignant, but I attempted to talk him out of it.  He and J ended up sitting outside the building with our precious (beautiful) water bottles while E and I went back in to see if we could figure out what was going on with the tickets I was told were on reserve for us.  Turns out the info I had was all screwy (thanks Kerry-staff), and what we really wanted (Senate Gallery Passes) had to be picked up at Kerry’s office – across the street.

We did follow through, and were very glad of it.  We were able to see the Senate in session (Beloved went to a photography exhibit elsewhere, with the water bottles) – although we missed the exciting debate over the “Truth Commission” – and the girls almost peed their pants when John McCain walked in to the chambers and engaged in the (unpopulated) debate.  We had fun seeing how many senators we could identify, loved watching the procedure of the vote (where the senators walk in, stand at the top of the steps and just wave at the woman doing the roll call  — she sees them, calls out their vote, and they turn around and walk back out).

The girls also had a lot more tolerance for museums than I thought they would.  J was a lot more into the art than I think she expected to be.  We stuck with modern art, for the most part, and the girls were happy.

We walked a lot, and packed our days full.  I am thrilled with how the girls held up, and think they’re definitely more than ready for a Europe trip.  Hopefully next year …

But in the meantime, we are definitely due for a BEACH vacation. One where we sit in a chair and read a book for 6 days straight.  I’m already choosing a rental in the Outer Banks for August.  Now I just have to see if I can swing another solid week off of work, especially since there’s an October trial looming ….

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E was a grouch tonight.  She didn’t really start off that way, but come dinner time, she was snapping at her sister and was the proud owner of a rather unattractive sneer.

after about the 15th eye roll, i asked her, “What is bothering you right now?”

Her response?

“I don’t know! [sorta snarky]  Nothing’s really wrong, but for some reason, everything is irritating me. [snark gone]  I don’t know why.”

I said, “wow, that was refreshingly honest.  Thanks.”

If she can maintain this transparency through her teenage years, I will survive.  I can talk to J instead when E is feeling that way.  I can eat my chili in silence.  I can respect the fact that she is a mass of roiling emotions and hormones and growing-up-ness, as long as she’s honest over rude.

After that interaction, she mellowed out, and we conversed normally for the rest of the meal.

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The Scene:  Harried working mom on her way home after a 12+ hour day, about an hour longer than she planned with.  The mom is wrought with guilt, feeling the pressure of months of a heavy work load.  She is concerned that her family is starting to get sick of it.  At the same time, said Mom is kinda tickled over her new iPhone, and is fussing with it in the backseat of the taxicab when she receives a text from her daughter:

E:  When are you coming home?

M:  I should be there by 7:30. Why?

E:  I just wanted to know.

M: Are you mad?

E:  No.

M:  Sorry that I’m running late.  It was a busy day.

E:  It’s okay.

M:  Are you sure?

E:  MOM!  I’m watching Heroes!  Stop texting me!

M:  So, here I am, feeling guilty that you’re missing me because I’m working too much, and in reality, you just want me to stay gone long enough for you to finish your television show?

E:  That about sums it up.  Now can you stop texting me?

Harumph.

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Years old!

Today was my birthday.

Through fantastic home cooked meals, disproportionate investments by offspring, phone calls from loved ones, and yes, Facebook Wall posts, I felt as loved and celebrated as I wanted to.

And through 10s of thousands of documents that HAD to be reviewed today, and the ever-growing to-do list at work and at home (i.e., kids’ school commitments, which may or may not include, oh, i don’t know, producing a major school play????), I was reminded that 3 dozen is far from 3.  Or One Dozen.  I am old.  And my birthday does not matter all that much, except to those who are dear to me.  And I thank them for their love and consideration.

Onward !!!  (because tomorrow is Beloved’s birthday!  And I have gifts to wrap, and a cake to wrap!!!)

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[not for the feint of heart]

Last night, E and I were sitting on the couch in our living room.  We had gone out to see Twilight with friends, then to Starbucks for a post-movie warm drink (so why the kids ended up with frappucinos is beyond me …)  We got home after 10.  I was so tahd.  I had a a tough day at work.

Because I am not all that traditional in my beliefs about “appropriate conversations with your kids,” I said, “E, I got my period today, and I have cramps.”  She said, “oh, poor mommy.”  And I said, “do you know when that means I will NEXT get my period?”  She did some quick math in her head, and said, “oh!  the 25th!”  And I said, “of what month?” and she said, “Decemb … oh, that sucks.”

Beloved and I have been enjoying an increased intake of green beans lately.  Law school is over, the stress of a first year at a new job is over, life is a little steady (even though he is in school …)

But we don’t like messy grean beans.

And so, on this Thanksgiving, we will be having some green beans in the traditional cream of mushroom soup with dried onions on top.  And that is it.

Sorry, Tranny-head, for the boring green beans post.  But I think it still counts.

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The beauty in my house.

1)  Beloved’s optimism.  He is not, by nature, an optimistic boy.  He was not, since March, an Obama fan, as I was.  But now – he’s just full of (sorry …) hope and excitement.  He loves what he’s seeing, and i love seeing him UNcynical about the way of the world.

2)  J’s sense of humor.  She is a very funny bird, and even after some tears and a minor catastrophe over a loose molar that she won’t wiggle and that may very well be impacted … she can crack jokes and make us all laugh until we want to pee our pants.

3)  E’s Mandarin skills.  How strange to have your offspring pick up a pen and create such very different language on a page.  I can’t believe how quickly she became so confident with her pen dashing across the page making … (to me) pictures.  She spent the later part of the evening writing out sentences for me in  Mandarin characters, phonetic Mandarin, direct English translation, and conversational English translations.  Wow!  (The best part may be how much she loves it, and that this activity was something SHE chose to do, and had fun with.

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It’s 7:59 a.m., and I am back from voting.  We brought the kids with, and were excited to see that the line was almost 30% kids.

As we were walking up to our polling place at 6:55 a.m., with a line already weaving around the building, I felt tears building.  It was amazing.

I am so excited for this day.  Like everyone is noting – it feels like  Christmas.  The building and anticipation of something really exciting and fantastic.

I only worry because if Santa doesn’t come this time, it doesn’t mean that we didn’t get the toy we wanted.  It means so much more about the country’s future, and sadly, the prejudices and unfounded fears of many.

I will be so happy tonight when that ends up needless worry, and we can be ecstatic and jumping up and down and hopeful.

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